Minister plans to address skill shortages
EMPLOYMENT and Learning Minister Stephen Farry has outlined plans to “address skill shortages in the North and North West of Ireland.”
He had been prompted to do so by local MLA George Robinson, who quizzed the Minister with a series of formal Assembly questions made in writing directly to Dr Farry.
The Minister made identical replies to three of Mr Robinson’s questions, which requested details on what the Department for Employment and Learning’s plans were to address skill shortages in the North and North West of Northern Ireland; in the hospitality; and public administration sectors; and in small and medium sized enterprises.”
Dr Farry made the same reply to all three separate questions, which read: “The Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, known as ‘Success through Skills – Transforming Futures’, articulates the Department’s overarching vision for the development of skills in Northern Ireland.
“The Strategy, which is informed by forecasting work and labour market information, highlights a number of challenges that need to be addressed if we are to overcome current and forecast skills shortages and have a workforce equipped with the skills employers need to drive their businesses.
“A key component of my Department’s work is how we effectively engage with employers to help them up-skill their existing staff and recruit new staff with the skills they require.
“My Department’s Skills Solutions Service, targeted specifically at small and medium sized enterprises, helps employers across Northern Ireland and in all sectors to understand and access the Department’s skills development provision. It is delivered on an area based basis, which includes a dedicated team in the North West. We are mindful of the One Plan, aimed at the regeneration of Londonderry, and my Department is represented on the Skills Directorate which was established in the city to take forward the relevant parts of the plan.
“My Department also undertakes work on a sectoral basis. Last year, I identified the ‘hotels and catering sector’, which supports tourism, as a priority sector. Consequently, the Skills Solutions Service has worked in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and People 1st, the relevant Sector Skills Council, to introduce and fund the World Host Customer Service Programme as the primary customer service training programme for the hospitality and tourism sector. To date, some 4,500 sector employees across Northern Ireland have successfully completed it, with approximately 50 per cent of this total based in the North and North West of Northern Ireland.
“The Department has brought forward further World Host programmes to build on this success.
To complement the WorldHost training, the Department’s Skills Solutions Service, in conjunction with the Further Education Colleges, has also developed short, accredited training packages in key specific areas.
“There are numerous other types of training provisions across Northern Ireland which support the flow of qualified people into the hospitality sector, with high quality courses offered throughout the network of Further Education Colleges and Universities. This work builds on the successful Hospitality and Tourism Skills Action Plan, led by my Department.
“As the aim of the Skills Strategy is focussed on improving the match between the demand and supply of skills to bring about increased productivity, the Strategy has deliberately focused on the private sector and the skills shortages and gaps within it. That said, a number of pilots based on the Apprenticeship scheme have been taken forward within the public sector including the recently initiated Public/Private Sector ICT Apprenticeship.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Tuesday 21 May 2013
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